EconomyWhy the soaring price of wood isn't such a...

Why the soaring price of wood isn’t such a bad thing

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It is a magnificent space, which some describe as magical. In Paimpont, in the heart of the mystical forest of Brocéliande, around 200 people will participate this Thursday in the Breton Tree Meetings.

Organized for the first time, the event aims to answer the 3,274 questions that communities ask themselves on a daily basis about their wood resource: should more trees be planted? Which species to choose? Should you cut down a tired tree? Is the wood-fired boiler ecological? How to build my school with a wooden frame?

A time abandoned in favor of fossil fuels, wood is today the object of many desires. Since the start of the health crisis, its price has even skyrocketed around the world, in particular because of the shortage suffered by the United States. More recently, it was the firewood producers who saw their phones explode, harassed by fireplace owners who did not anticipate the first cold. Here too, prices have climbed. But is this such bad news? Not sure, according to industry players.

“The price of wood had not changed for thirty years, it was necessary to catch up”

The scene is crazy. Arrived in Brest, a ship transporting Scandinavian timber bound for the French market sets out again to reach the United States. The reason ? An American buyer has spent twice as much as his French counterpart to afford the goods his country lacks so much, weighed down by the end of the trade agreement with Canada buried by Donald Trump. This political choice will have consequences all over the world, pushing up the price of wood.

“It was brutal, but it’s not such bad news. The price of wood had not changed for thirty years, it was necessary to catch up. Without this, the sector cannot move forward, ”explains Gildas Prévost, project manager at Fibois Bretagne, an association which brings together all the professions in the wood-forest sector.

“Lumberjack, it’s a job that is becoming depopulated”

This price increase could first allow forests to be “of better quality”, pushing operators to promote slower and more qualitative growth intended for noble uses, such as furniture. Inflation could also allow the industry to offer better wages, which is struggling so hard to recruit. “Lumberjack, it’s a job that is becoming depopulated. It’s physically difficult, potentially dangerous and you have to be passionate. But it’s too badly paid. Mechanization does not compensate for the lack of manpower, ”assures Nathalie Brac de la Perrière.

In Brittany, 92% of the forest area is owned by private owners, which makes it difficult to manage. – C. Allain / 20 Minutes

The organizer of Fibois Bretagne hopes that the rise in prices will encourage local players to innovate in order to place themselves in markets with better added value. Brittany will have to anticipate the growth of its forest areas. Only 15% covered by forest, against 30% for the national average, the region gains 3,000 to 4,000 hectares of forest area each year, making it one of the most dynamic in France. “Studies show that it is above all deciduous trees that are planted. It is important to find outlets for them now, ”warns Gildas Prévost.

In Brittany, 120,000 owners share the 410,000 hectares of forest

Endowed with an “average” quality of wood, Brittany wants to bet on the fashion of short circuits to better transform its trees. This Thursday, the industry intends to convince communities to “plant better” in order to promote. “The tree is at the crossroads of all issues. It stores carbon, limits global warming and heat islands, it can help improve water quality, it beautifies space and can provide jobs. Communities are aware of this, but they are wondering. We are there to guide them, ”explains Mikael Laurent, coordinator of the Bruded network.

This association bringing together communities invested in ecological transition saw its number of members climb by 35% last year, proof of the public authorities’ interest in the issue. “There is a real challenge in going towards ultra-local woods, in the forest but also in the bocage. Especially since the resource is very scattered in the region, ”he continues. In Brittany, 120,000 owners share the 410,000 hectares of forest. A fragmentation which multiplies the number of “small players” and makes it difficult to unite the sector. However, we must arm ourselves now so as not to miss the train tomorrow.

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